Doers 012 – CJay Engel on Running Multiple Businesses with a Family

C.Jay Engel is a young father of two, financial advisor, and entrepreneur involved in several businesses. He manages the estates of high net worth clients, runs a web and mobile development company with his brother, operates a small business with his wife, writes regular financial opinion pieces, and still spends time with his young children and his wife.

C.Jay embodies the Doers’ mindset. When a new opportunity comes his way, he has personal tools that he uses to help him decide when to jump in, when to delegate, and when to dabble. We discuss advice he would have given his younger self, his investment philosophy (and how he got involved in financial advising), and his upbringing with a thoroughly blue-collar family.

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace.

Doers 012 – CJay Engel on Running Multiple Businesses with a Family

Doers 011.5 – High Quality Steve Patterson on Philosophy Outside of Academia and Reclaiming Ideas from Dogma

I was not particularly happy with the final audio quality of Episode 011 with Steve Patterson. The internet connection between my Manhattan hotel and in his New Zealand Kiwi-Hut (at least, that’s what I imagine was housing him) was not great and resulted in some splotchy spots throughout the podcast, even with some expert audio post-production by producer Lacey.

So, this week’s episode is a higher quality version of last week’s episode. We spliced together the audio from my input and the audio from his input to reduce bandwidth interruptions.

Enjoy.

Doers 011.5 – High Quality Steve Patterson on Philosophy Outside of Academia and Reclaiming Ideas from Dogma

Doers 011 – Steve Patterson on Philosophy Outside of Academia & Reclaiming Ideas from Dogma

Academia is a terrible place to go if you are sincerely interested in ideas — at least, that’s the claim behind Steve Patterson’s pursuit to find truth and explicate it.

Steve is a non-academic, non-PhD professional philosopher pursuing ideas outside of the university system. Steve joins me to discuss his background, training, why he chose to work outside of academia, and the decline of the pursuit of ideas in the institution. We also discuss the replication crisis in academia, how to get started interviewing intellectual heavyweights, and Steve’s plan for the future.

Steve can be found at steve-patterson.com. He is the author of Square One, which I review here: http://zakslayback.com/2017/01/01/review-square-one-foundations-knowledge-steve-patterson/

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace

Doers 011 – Steve Patterson on Philosophy Outside of Academia & Reclaiming Ideas from Dogma

Doers 010 – Chad Grills on a Violence for Action, Launching a Media Company, and Education

A bias for action is one thing, but what if you can develop a violence for action? Chad Grills is a veteran-turned-entrepreneur as founder of The Mission, a new media company based out of San Jose, CA. Inspired by the need to create a new way of delivering information to people, Chad founded The Mission in 2016 and grew it to the largest publication on Medium.

Chad joins me to discuss how he developed this bias for action (or, as he calls it, a violence for action), education, his background, fundraising for his company, and how he sees the world changing.

Check out Chad at medium.com/the-mission.

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace. Kudos to Lacey for substantially reducing the echo that originally appeared in this recording.

Doers 010 – Chad Grills on a Violence for Action, Launching a Media Company, and Education

Doers 009 – Danny Vega on the Ketogenic Diet, Powerlifting, and How Sugar is Killing You

Sugar is killing you and carbs are making you fat. This is the bold claim behind the ketogenic diet — an ultra-low-carb, high-fat diet gaining popularity with those trying to lose weight, with disorders like epilepsy, and just trying to live a healthier life.

Nutrition is tricky to talk about and to “do” because much of the existing information appears to conflict. “Do this to live a healthier life,” might read one source, but another says, “no! If you do that, you will die!” This keeps many from starting on a path to better nutrition and healthier living.

Danny Vega is the co-host of the Ketogenic Athlete podcast, a graduate of Columbia University, a football player, powerlifter, and all-around athlete. Danny explores what the ketogenic diet is, myths about fat and carbs, some facts about powerlifting, and how sugar is actually killing you.

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace.

Doers 009 – Danny Vega on the Ketogenic Diet, Powerlifting, and How Sugar is Killing You

Doers 008 – Jason Brennan on Succeeding in Academia, Writing Well and Often, and Using Reverse Induction

Academia is a place where many go and few succeed. Thousand of new grad students matriculate into programs every year and, save in the sciences and economics, there simply are not enough jobs for everybody. There is a path to succeeding in academia, though: doing. Those who are successful produce original, quality content at a higher rate than their competition.

Professor Jason Brennan is one of the most prolific academics I know. He has produced a book-per-year for the past several years, regularly presents his ideas through public media, and has succeeded in a space where many try and fail — academic philosophy. His most recent book, Against Democracy, still garners public attention following the 2016 political season in the United States and Europe.

Jason joins me today to discuss his background — how he got interested in academic philosophy and went from a kid working in a factory to a tenured professor at an elite university, how he discovered the path to success in his field, the tools he uses to keep himself on that path, and what he’s learned along the way.

One such tool is reverse induction. This is a common tool among the successful doers in this series. We discuss what it is and how to use it in the interview.


All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace. 

Doers 008 – Jason Brennan on Succeeding in Academia, Writing Well and Often, and Using Reverse Induction

Doers 007 – Salem Marrero on Self-Educating in Data Science, Japanese Cinema, and Baseball

Can you become a professional data scientist without a college degree? Can you get a better education in data science on your own than at one of the world’s top universities? Can this education actually be applied to the workplace?

Salem Marrero argues yes to all three points in this week’s Doers podcast.

Ever since he was a young child, Salem Marrero knew that he loved statistics. He knew that he wanted to do something with numbers and making sense of them and the world around him and set out on a path to understand stats. Applying his statistical knowledge to baseball brought him a whole new level of understanding of the game.

Salem left Carnegie Mellon University in early 2017 to join a high-growth tech company in Pittsburgh, PA as a data scientist in a full time capacity. I join Salem at Carnegie Mellon in the Fall of 2016 after a class he teaches on classic Japanese cinema.

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace.

Doers 007 – Salem Marrero on Self-Educating in Data Science, Japanese Cinema, and Baseball

Doers 006 – Aaron Watson on Launching a Podcast, Using Snapchat for Your Brand, and Dominating Ultimate Frisbee

A lot of people talk about starting a podcast — they may even buy a microphone and line up a few guests — but very few follow through on it. A select few can stick to launching a podcast and getting regular guests. Aaron Watson has done exactly that while building out his own set of interviews with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the world. His guests include entrepreneur Tucker Max, WIRED editor and authorKevin Kelly, and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

Aaron joins me to discuss how he got started podcasting, his advice for those thinking about doing it, and how to get guests on your show. We also discuss how to use Snapchat for your brand, his tips for learning sales, and ultimate frisbee.

Aaron Watson is the host of Going Deep With Aaron Watson, an advocate of Snapchat for marketing and branding, and a master of sales. He hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace. 

Doers 006 – Aaron Watson on Launching a Podcast, Using Snapchat for Your Brand, and Dominating Ultimate Frisbee

Doers 005 – Taweh Beysolow II on Learning Machine Learning, the Shift to Finance, and Self-Driving Cars

Data science and machine learning are all the rage, but how do you actually learn the skills required to get into these fields when you have little background with the knowledge? Taweh Beysolow II joins me to discuss how he learned data science and machine learning skills after completing his formal education in economics, why he chose to study these areas instead of mere statistics, and how he got started in these areas. If you are flirting with the idea of picking up these skills or find them interesting, this conversation with Taweh provides good background and practical advice for how you can get started.

We also discuss the shift from hardware to finance in the 1980s, the shift from finance to software today, and how machine learning plays into the development of self-driving cars. Taweh is the author of a forthcoming book on machine learning and a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton.


All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace. Special thanks to Aaron Carter for audio-assistance. 

Doers 005 – Taweh Beysolow II on Learning Machine Learning, the Shift to Finance, and Self-Driving Cars

Review of Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge (Steve Patterson)

Ayn Rand once wrote that no mind is better than the precision of its concepts. If that is the case, then Square One is the sharpening block for the concepts of the mind.

Patterson’s short little book is exactly what it claims to be, the *foundations* of knowledge. Useful to the philosopher and the novice alike, Square One provides a handy guide for reexamining our conceptions of the world through the clear, crisp lens of logic. I would highly recommend it to anybody interested in developing a better understanding of the concepts that shape reality. The book might seem a bit basic or slow at first to those familiar with the rules of logic, but it is well-worth sticking through to the end.

The core claim presented by Patterson is that objective truth exists and is discoverable. At first glance, that such a claim could be defended in a mere 125 pages might seem haughty but Patterson proves to do so masterfully by cutting away the superfluous and going to the core tool in his philosophical utility belt: logic.

Foundations of Logic

The foundational analogies from which Patterson opens the book are those of a castle and of a tree. Both of these represent beliefs and concepts (and the systems from which they spring) of the world.

A castle that is built on a swamp, no matter how beautiful, complex, or impressive its heights might be, is not a good castle. It is at risk of collapsing at any time and its complex, admirable heights are structurally compromised. This is how many existing belief systems in the modern era exist. We work from what we want to see in the castle and find the section towards the top that justifies our ways of thinking. But finding a room in the castle at the top would be useless if that castle is going to collapse at the slightest disturbance.

Most adherents of beliefs and concepts don’t realize the castle is built on a swamp, though. They aren’t actively ignorant of its compromised status because the foundation of the castle is obfuscated in a cloud of fog.

Logic is the tool by which we clear away this fog and discover whether or not the castle is built upon stone or upon a swamp. Patterson does not conjecture as to why so much of the world’s castles are surrounded by fog but it doesn’t take one much work to understand that, given the realities of the academic nature of modern philosophy and the politics involved in supporting and perpetuating such a system, the incentives are set up in such a way to focus on the heights of the castle rather than its foundation. Patterson’s own rejection of this system is a refreshing approach to how philosophy ought to be done.

The confused understanding of the world is one in which knowledge and reality has no foundations. We exist merely in a web of interconnected concepts and beliefs playing off of each other — a struggle between powers and subjective half-truths. There is no hierarchy of truth in this confused world. This is the postmodern ideal against which Patterson’s book implicitly argues.

Rather than reality existing as a web of concepts (in which one may find logic, confusingly implying that there exist elements of the web where logic does not exist), Patterson’s analogy for truth, concepts, and beliefs is that of a tree. Every leaf is attached to a twig attached to a branch, attached to a trunk, attached to the roots. Without these roots, the trunk cannot support the branches upon which the leaves sit.

Logic is the roots of reality.

Introductions to Logic

“Logic can be understood as the rules of existence.” (32)

“Existence without logic would be existence without existence — i.e., non-existent.” (41)

The meat of Square One focuses on lessons in logic. Patterson makes a case for the necessity of logic & the reality of objective truth and quickly turns to what the three basic rules of logic must, by necessity, be. These are the laws of identity (“A is A”), non-contradiction (“It is not the case that A is not-A”), and the excluded middle (“Either P or not-P”).

Having established the core laws of logic, Patterson then moves to run through exactly why deductive reasoning, axiomatic argumentation, and propositional logic carry the weight they do. This might seem out of place in the book at the time it is read but couched in Patterson’s core thesis and desire to defend the objectivity of truth, he needs to set the stage that there exist tool kits (i.e., deduction, axiomatic argumentation, and propositional logic) that can be employed against the core counterexamples of objective truth: paradoxes.

Paradoxes

Having equipped the reader with a proper understanding of the basic laws of logic and out to prove his main thesis that objective truth exists and is discoverable, the last section of the book focuses on the most obvious counterexamples to the objectivity of truth. Patterson swiftly shows that most paradoxes are mere linguistic errors and do not violate the laws of identity, non-contradiction, or the excluded middle. Here he addresses classic paradoxes like the Liar’s Paradox and the Bittersweet Paradox, showing them to be linguistic errors that show the imprecision of language more than any flaws in logic, and addresses the Copenhagen Interpretation’s understanding of particle physics.

Applications to Other Fields

“Ideas do not need to be walled off from each other.” (81)

Although only briefly addressed in Chapter 4, the most damning and far-reaching implications of the rescue of logic is the affect it has on other fields. In a time when it is considered heresy against the Grand Poobahs of Science to argue that theory must precede data, Patterson makes such a claim and goes forward to demonstrate the necessity of theory (with some understanding that it must be clear that both parties are playing the same game). Just as logic is the roots of philosophy, philosophy is the roots of all other disciplines. Science without theories to inform hypotheses is merely the collection of data; economics without theories to inform studies is just counting dollars and cents; English literature without theories of human action and struggle is just the recounting of stories. At the root of all of these is the need for theories that make sense and are discernible to the mind.

This is where the real power of Square One comes out. If the reader has a moment of clarity (and hope) when understanding just how important it is for other disciplines to be informed by crisp, clear philosophy — and how dangerous it is for them to reject logic for obfuscation or reject philosophy entirely — and gets nothing out of Square One, they’ll have gained more than most students gain in four years at a university.

_____________

Ultimately, Square One is just the corner piece to the puzzle of Patterson’s pursuit to clear the fog from around the castles of our minds. I look forward to the next piece in the puzzle.

You can purchase a copy of Square One here.

You can follow Steve Patterson’s work here.

You can support Steve Patterson here

Review of Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge (Steve Patterson)

Doers 004 – Hannah Phillips on Being a Professional Artist, Skipping College, and the Doer’s Mindset

Hannah Phillips is a 19 year-old artist-entrepreneur in Pittsburgh, PA and has run her own business since before most people have even held a job. She’s one of those people who knew from a young age exactly what she wanted to do — she wanted to be an artist. Through high school, she focused on growing her photography and design business, all while holding down three other jobs as as things such as a server and a tennis coach.

Hannah and I discuss everything from how she knew at such a young age what she wanted to do, how she got started with her business, how she told her teachers and peers she was going to bypass college altogether (and their general shock), and what’s next for her. She’s an excellent example of what being extremely focused and having definiteness of purpose can result in.

Since we spoke, Hannah has broken off from her Praxis business partner and gone 100% in on her business, HP Media. The business partner, a creative ad and digital marketing agency in Pittsburgh, has hired her as a freelancer and she’s able to devote her attention entirely to building the business she’s dreamt of since a young age.

You can follow Hannah at her blog here and visit her portfolio site here. You can learn more about the HP Media Scholarship and support it here.


Big thanks to Lacey Peace, by whom all episodes of Doers are produced. 

My books, Freedom Without Permission and The End of School are available on Amazon Kindle for free until Wednesday. Go download your copies now. 

Doers 004 – Hannah Phillips on Being a Professional Artist, Skipping College, and the Doer’s Mindset

What I’ve Been Reading

I’ve made it more of a focus over the past few months to be consuming more content while I am producing (or at least, publishing) less content. Specifically, to consume content from related, but different, fields and subject matters. It is developing an ability to read one book while making connections to other books and using information in one to analyze or synthesize information from another that contributes to the development of original thought. In an effort to promote intellectual flexibility, for lack of a better term, I’ve been pushing myself to read more than 3 books at once, something that would have been difficult a few years ago.

Currently Reading:

Recently Read (finished in last 60 days):

I used to push myself to finish any book I was reading, even if I found that I wasn’t getting value out of it. Not anymore. Instead of getting the pang of guilt at putting down a book that I am not yet enjoying, I remind myself the other books and content I could be consuming while reading that book and the opportunity cost of continuing to read that book. This makes putting the particular title down much easier.


My books Freedom Without Permission and The End of School are currently free on Amazon until December 28. Pick them up on your Kindle or give them as a gift.

What I’ve Been Reading

Merry Christmas! My Kindle Books Are Free on Amazon

Merry Christmas! Take this time to enjoy time with your family and be grateful for the bountiful wealth that we experience today.

I’ve made Freedom Without Permission and The End of School free in their Kindle formats until Wednesday, December 28, 2016. Consider them a Christmas gift (and a great gift for friends or family, too!).

You can get your free copy of Freedom Without Permission here.

You can get your free copy of The End of School here.

Merry Christmas! My Kindle Books Are Free on Amazon

How School Undermines the Self-Efficacy of Recent Grads

Self-efficacy is one of the core concepts in developing a healthy sense of self-esteem. At its basic level, it is a competence and sense of competence about one’s ability to handle life and to navigate it intelligently. A healthy sense of self-efficacy develops through overcoming specific challenges and mastering things at which others may just give up. Self-efficacy is foundational to a healthy sense of being able to navigate reality. Without it, people feel like they are at the force of things and are mere sail-ships blowing in the wind instead of feeling like captains of their own fate.

Continue reading “How School Undermines the Self-Efficacy of Recent Grads”

How School Undermines the Self-Efficacy of Recent Grads

Doers 003 — Mathew Pregasen on Learning to Code, Starting Companies as a Student, and an Entrepreneurial Family

Mathew Pregasen is the cofounder of Parsegon (https://www.parsegon.com), an ed-tech company that can translate typed language into symbols in live-time, and a student at Columbia University. Mathew and I discuss everything from his entrepreneurial familial background as the son of an immigrant-entrepreneur to his decision to learn how to code only after graduating high school.

Mathew provides some useful insight for young people interested in following in his steps, what he looks for when hiring talent at Parsegon and his other projects and companies he’s started, and where he sees Parsegon going in the near future.

You can check out Parsegon here.

Today, I tried a new format where I just hop right into the interview with the guest instead of offering my own introduction separately. Given that we open the conversation asking what the guest does, I figured this to be appropriate. If you disagree, leave a comment on the Soundcloud page letting me know!

Doers is now available on the iTunes store/the Podcast app on iOS. You can download it here

Doers 003 — Mathew Pregasen on Learning to Code, Starting Companies as a Student, and an Entrepreneurial Family

Doers Episode 002 — Isaac Morehouse on Starting a Business With a Family, Habits for Doing, and Life as a Game

“There’s no such thing as cheating in real life, that’s only in school.”

Isaac Morehouse is the CEO and Founder of Praxis — a nine-month startup apprenticeship program taking on the traditional path of higher education.

Isaac started Praxis with no outside capital, no grand plans to raise millions and take on the establishment, no buy-in from “experts” and “leaders” in education, and no back-up plan. He took the leap into a totally unexplored space with a wife and three children to support at the age of 30.

Isaac explores his background, upbringing, and the ideas that influenced him — and how he doesn’t naturally consider himself a Doer and had to train that into his habits around work.

Isaac’s philosophy on shipping to ship and treating life as a game has personally influenced me and is a big reason why Doers exists today. The End of School grew out of a Morehouseian challenge to write once a day for a given period of time. Since doing that, I find myself regularly producing content (whether blog posts, articles, books, or podcasts) at a higher frequency and at higher quality than before.

Books mentioned in the podcast:

How they Succeeded, Orison Swett Marden
The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler
Finite and Infinite Games, James Carse

Isaac is on twitter @isaacmorehouse and writes at http://isaacmorehouse.com.

Doers Episode 002 — Isaac Morehouse on Starting a Business With a Family, Habits for Doing, and Life as a Game

Doers Episode 001 – Tim Chermak on Marketing, Sales, and Succeeding in Business Without Really Trying

Tim Chermak is the embodiment of the Doers mindset. Having read about marketing and sales dozens of times over, Tim didn’t stop at just reading books and listening to podcasts. He went shop-to-shop in his hometown and began offering the services he read about. After plenty of rejections, he stumbled into success with real estate marketing and sales.

Tim and I discuss marketing (where most people go wrong and how to do it right), sales (how to get started in asking for money for your services), stumbling into success (Tim never planned on doing marketing for real estate), and investing in yourself.

Tim is also a contributor to Why Haven’t You Read This Book? His chapter, “Why Haven’t You Flown First Class?” is a great way of thinking about rationing your time and investing in yourself.

You can connect with Tim on Facebook here.

Doers Episode 001 – Tim Chermak on Marketing, Sales, and Succeeding in Business Without Really Trying

Announcing Doers, The Podcast Exploring People Who Do

I hold a deep-seated belief that there are really only two types of people in this world: the people who do things and the people who watch people do things.

Most people fall into that second category. They get so caught up in making a living and going through the motions of life that they end up living in the world of the people who do things.

They say how great it would be to try something out or to start on a new project or to pick up a skill or jump into a career, but when push comes to shove, they don’t act.

These people live in the world of the Doers. They buy the products of the Doers, they admire their art, they read their books, and they watch their athletic competitions.

The Doers have a disproportionate impact on the lives of everybody else.

Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated by the Doers. These people seem to run on a different wavelength than everybody else, whether that’s in business, art, ideas, health, or any number of other areas. When others get caught up in “what if’s,” they decide to try things out.

I’ve purposely designed my life to be around these people. In my job, I get to interact with entrepreneurs and CEOs who started companies and with young people doing things now. I interact with intellectuals and artists who didn’t wait for somebody to tell them they should become leaders in their fields — they just chose to act.

And I want to share these people’s stories.

Doers is a weekly podcast exploration of the stories, habits, and visions of people who show an unusual bias for action. I’ve already interviewed intellectuals, entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, data scientists, and craftsmen who are leaders among their peer groups. We explore what makes them tick, what helped them develop their bias for action, and what ultimately sets them apart from everybody else.

Episodes are released weekly and are 45 minute- ~1 hour interviews.

You can find the feed on SoundCloud here. Coming soon to the Podcast app.

 

 

Announcing Doers, The Podcast Exploring People Who Do

Three Virtues of Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving and Christmas. These two holidays capture everything I find inspiring about the human spirit and the culture around them has a tendency to bring out the best in people.

Between the two of them, Thanksgiving is too often dismissed as the beginning of the Christmas season or, even worse, the “opportunity” to come together and argue with distant relatives about the outcome of some political Hunger Games over which nobody at the table had a significant say. The idea of being grateful or giving thanks for the time together is referenced sarcastically or not at all.

This is a disappointing state of affairs because there is so much potential in the concept of Thanksgiving and this potential is actively within the control of the people who dread the holiday.

Continue reading “Three Virtues of Thanksgiving”

Three Virtues of Thanksgiving